People’s Alcohol Issues Become More Problematic During COVID-19
Reports from civil society are showing that people’s alcohol issues are becoming more problematic during COVID-19.
For instance, the Aisling Project supports isolated and vulnerable long-term Irish emigrants and reconnects them with their homeland and relatives in Ireland. The charity claims their clients are at an increased risk with COVID-19 engulfing the United Kingdom.
The Charity has continued their services to their more than 200 clients during the pandemic. The charity contacts their clients and volunteers on a daily basis making enquiries about their condition in a constantly changing environment, offering advice on welfare, housing, health and other pressing issues as well as offering befriending and support during these times of uncertainty and isolation. They have even extended their services to support special needs which may arise from the pandemic such as through booking clients in for deliveries from food banks or providing supermarket vouchers.
However, alcohol problems are not easy to address for Aisling. They claim that their clients with alcohol problems are now,
- consuming alcohol at home rather than outside and increasing their use due to this unusual situation;
- since the relaxation of lockdown laws and guidelines street alcohol use has started again; and
- experiencing increased loneliness and isolation.
Aisling have started to give phones to their clients as a means to keep in touch with their family and friends. Connections are important for those who have alcohol problems to recover. During the pandemic these connections have been threatened and phone calls or online chats and videos are some of the only ways people can keep in touch with their loved ones. This is crucial for people in recovery.
A survey commissioned by Action on Addiction reports that COVID-19 may have caused a rise in alcohol use and related problems such as addiction in the UK.
According to the survey,
- a quarter of UK adults are consuming more alcohol than they were before lockdown;
- of these, 15% said they were experiencing physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms as well as problems relating to relationships, work, money or sleep; and
- almost a quarter of those experiencing problems said they would need help to resolve them.
- Over a third (39%) of those who described themselves as being in recovery from an addiction (4% of all respondents) reported either a recurrence in addictive behaviour or a relapse in their recovery.
On young people and addiction, the survey found,
- 4% of those surveyed (on a national scale this would mean over 2 million people), said they had a close relative, aged between 12 and 25, who was showing increasing signs of developing addictive behaviour during lockdown;
- of these, 35% said they believed the young person would need support as a result of this behaviour: e.g. advice, treatment or therapy; and
- 30% said the young person’s family would also need support.
Those who commented on the study including Karen Biggs, Chief Executive of Phoenix Futures, agree that civil society is facing a surge in demand following a “tsunami of need” created by COVID-19.
Graham Beech, Action on Addiction’s Chief Executive stressed the importance of getting the word across that help is available for those in need.
The findings signal that problems of addiction are growing in both volume and complexity, and are not confined to one substance, one activity, or one small section of society. Results also indicate that action is urgently needed to ensure that young people and families are better supported and that they have access to information, advice and guidance, and specialist interventions where needed.
Action on Addiction calls for a radical review of how to address the problems of addiction in the UK, which is evidence based and focuses on children and youth; families; self-help and community led mutual support; and ‘addiction’ as opposed to ‘substance misuse’.